When Bagan met Bayern...

Soma Banerjee  |  Mohun Bagan  |  2 Years Ago

Not so long ago form now, merely nine years when the German Champions FC Bayern Munchen flew down to the Football hub of the Country, Kolkata to play Mohun Bagan at Salt Lake Stadium. It was the first time any German top flight club came to play on Indian soil, much to make it the farewell match for the legendary Goalie Oliver Kahn, but it was actually the Brazilian Ze Roberto who stole the show worthy of his class. The former Leverkusen Attacking midfielder troubled the Mariners’ Midfield and Defence enough with his high intensity dribbling and pace. He later scored an impressive free kick to hammer a goal for the visitors. 


Bagan, on the other side strategised to rely on the counter attacks, but playing without many of their regulars, including the captain Bhaichung Bhutia soiled their dish completely. However irrespective of all the odds, Bagan did what they’re known for—Putting a tough fight to the opponent, which their then Manager Carlo Ancelotti also applauded.

Except for the likes of Mark van Bommel, Ze Roberto, Striker Jan Schlaudraff and the youngster Christian Lell, the German side were below par in performing up to their usual tempo of passing and possession. They played many long and aerial balls, far enough to reach the Red Shirt, and when they didn’t, the ball was easily intercepted by the Bagan outfit which gave them opportunities to encash occasionally. Though the Mariners tried, but they were far from the level of a European Club.


It took Bayern just 18 minutes to break the deadlock, as they capitalised on a mistake by Anand Vasan who was otherwise solid at the back throughout the game. Young Rakesh Masih also played well and looked to be a good prospect for the future. Bagan’s midfield had very little liberty to support the lone striker Lalampuia as most of the game they were chasing shadows. Ishfaq Ahmed and Lalkamal Bhowmick tried hard to orchestrate counter attacks but Van Bommel and co were well equipped for such threats. Lalkamal Bhowmick also had Bagan’s best moment in the match when his long distance effort in the 2nd half beat Michael Rensing but skimmed the top of the bar and went over. Highly rated Lalampuia looked good in patches but found it difficult to play as the lone striker up front.


The match ended with Bayern netting thrice to Bagan's nil.

Nonetheless, the fans were most impressed by the brilliant goalkeeping by Sangram Mukherjee who saved three of the incomings, which could've been four-nil before his silver lining performance came into play. 


The fans, however acted as the 12th member to Mohun Bagan’s lineup, coming as usually in such a huge number. The overall attendance at Salt Lake on that day was 1,30,000 while it was recorded that only as few as 2000 spectators came wearing the Red Jersey. Well, though Bayern weren’t really impressed by the Indian players, but if we believe Mark van Bommel, he said, ”I have played in Barcelona but the spectators here are more emotional, I have never seen such an atmosphere”.


Well, we don't need an introduction to how passionate the Mohun Bagan fans have ever been. The connect is emotional and special. That reflects when you come out loud wearing Green and Maroon against the opponent “Bayern Munich”. Arguably Mohun Bagan and their fans is the reason for the Country’s persistence with football.


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